Fellow diner rewards mum after toddler's tantrum

Melissa Wistehuff and her son Ian.
Melissa Wistehuff and her son Ian. Photo: WTVD-TV

Parents of toddlers everywhere know the feeling. After working up the courage to take your child out for lunch or dinner in public you are faced with a mid-meal meltdown. 

The glares from disapproving fellow diners are impossible to ignore as you do your best to calm your child.

It's not often that parents are rewarded for their efforts after dealing with a toddler tantrum. But that's just what happened to US mum Melissa Wistehuff after her young son showed diners at Sammy's Seafood House in North Carolina just how loud he could yell. 

Toddler Ian was "just exhausted from playing on the beach all day and very hungry and he let it show", mum Melissa said.
Toddler Ian was "just exhausted from playing on the beach all day and very hungry and he let it show", mum Melissa said. Photo: WTVD-TV

The mum and her husband were dining with their children aged 7, 5 and 2 when toddler Ian decided to make his displeasure known. 

"He was arching his back and stiff as a board, it was hard to get him out of his high chair. He was screaming and crying,"  Melissa told US ABC

Melissa realised other diners would not appreciate listening to her son's protests while they enjoyed their meals, so she removed her boy from the restaurant as quickly as she could.

"It is quite frustrating if you're eating a nice meal and trying to enjoy your vacation and there's a screaming child right next to you," Melissa said.

"I immediately got up, got him out of his high chair, and took him out of the restaurant. And, of course, feeling like everybody is judging and rolling their eyes and looking at me."

Once her little boy calmed down Melissa returned to the restaurant. But the family's attempt to have a pleasant meal was futile, with Ian launching into round two of his tantrum once back at the table.

"He let it rip. He was really loud, screaming," Melissa said.

At this point Melissa and her family decided to call it a night. Her husband took the tantrumming Ian outside while she requested the bill.

It was then the waiter informed her a kind stranger had already paid the $86 bill for the family's meal.

"He said that our check had been taken care of by another patron at the restaurant," Melissa told ABC.

"I said, 'What? You're kidding! Why would they do that?' He said they just so admired how we handled the situation.

"[We] got him out of the restaurant and not having to put the other people in the restaurant through a tantrum … and I'm sure they also felt sorry for us."

The family didn't get to say thank you to the man who paid for their meal. But his kindness, appreciation and understanding is something Melissa will no doubt remember as she deals with future public toddler tantrums.

"What my child did was not abnormal - what the other person did was abnormal," she said.

"Number one: it was really awesome that somebody showed compassion. Number two: I always assume, as a mum, someone is judging us ... But don't assume the bad in people. Just know there are good people out there."

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